Jason Pero shooting: Teen lunged at deputy with butcher knife, officials say

Investigators say the 14-year-old had a butcher knife.

The family of Jason Ike Pero has been desperate for more information since the 14-year-old was killed Wednesday morning. 

He was shot twice by an Ashland County sheriff's deputy outside his home on the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians Reservation, about 300 miles north of Madison. 

The Ashland County Sheriff's Office said the shooting happened just before noon, after deputies responded to call about someone carrying a knife in the area. But initially they didn't disclose many other details, including his age.

Activists within the Native Lives Matter movement joined the boy’s family and community to demand answers: Why was a kid who was home sick from school shot dead outside his house?

The Wisconsin Department of Justice's (DOJ) Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) released some details over the weekend.

Pero had a butcher knife, authorities say

Pero's parents said the eighth-grader had had the flu for a few days, but went to school the morning of the shooting. 

After feeling nauseous, he was picked up from school early and dropped off at his grandparents' house, where he lived. 

That same day he wrote on Facebook: "Just wanted to say thanks to all the people who have talked to me and made me smile/ laugh."

At some point he ended up outside. Pero's mother told WDIO she did not know what her son was doing outside that morning or why he was shot.

The update from the Wisconsin DOJ details what happened next.

The Ashland County Emergency Communications Center got a 911 call about a "male subject" walking on Maple Street carrying a knife. 

Deputy Brock Mrdjenovich responded to the scene and encountered a 5-foot-9, 300-pound male – fitting the description given by the 911 caller, the Wisconsin DOJ says. That person was later identified as Pero.

According to the DOJ, Pero approached Mrdjenovich with a "large butcher knife" and lunged twice while the deputy was trying to retreat. 

After giving "numerous" commands to drop the knife, Mrdjenovich fired his weapon, striking the boy twice. 

Pero was hit once in the heart and once in the right shoulder. Life-saving measures were unsuccessful, and Pero was pronounced dead at Memorial Medical Center in Ashland.

Community members question 'despondent' claim

Authorities have since determined that Pero was the one who called 911 reporting a man with a knife, and gave a physical description of himself. 

Officials say they have evidence the teenager had been "despondent" in the days leading up to the shooting, but did not elaborate.

People in Pero's community are questioning information officials have given. One woman posted a video of Pero playing drums with his classmates less than a week before the shooting.

"This does not look like a 'despondent' child to me!... Just look at that smile as he's having fun with his friends!!" she wrote.

A man who lives near Pero's grandparents says he was there after the shooting. He wrote a long Facebook post about how what he witnessed (and says he recorded) does not match the press releases. One of his claims is that he never heard the cop shout for Pero to drop a weapon.

"We heard No Shouting! (Supposedly)Drop That Knife was shouted several times,In a Whisper???? The only thing We heard was BANG!BANG! 2 quick shots!" the post says.

He also says prior to the shooting, the neighborhood was alerted to a person with a gun who was shooting in the area.

"I asked Him what ever happened to Tazers? Warning Shot? Shooting to wound? Why Shoot to kill?" the post says.

Deputy Mrdjenovich is on paid administrative leave in accordance with the sheriff's office's policy. He's been with the Ashland County Sheriff's Office for about a year.

The DOJ says the sheriff's office has been fully cooperating during the investigation. After it's finished, reports will be sent to the Ashland County District Attorney's office (and the goal is to do that within 30 days).

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